Friday, April 22, 2011

Knitted Pinballs

About a year ago now, I found out about knitted pinballs--little round pincushions that 18th century women wore from their waists--and of course, had to have one. I had wanted a fabric one for years, ever since first seeing one in Fitting and Proper and later seeing my friend Sarah's on a lovely silver pinball ring from Williamsburg.

It wasn't until seeing the knitted version that that want became need. It helped that there were original knitted pinballs that used ribbon or the same thread as they were knit with instead of a silver ring. Not that I didn't want a silver ring, but rather I couldn't find one. I tried to buy one during Under the Redcoat, but they no longer had them. The following year though, I was able to buy a ring. It's been sitting in a drawer for almost a year now, with nothing in it. Isn't that sad?

Back to knitted pinballs though. I bought this book, Tokens of Love, which has images of knitted pinballs as well as charted designs. It's not clear if they're exact charts of 18c pinballs or if they're inspired by, but it's a lovely book and the charts fit my needs.

And so I knit a pinball! It's green soie d'alger embroidery thread knit on 000000 needles. I used pink ribbon to cover the join. These colors came directly from the pink and green court dress that I was working on when I bought the thread. Though I did choose a softer pink :)

And here's the pinball!

Pinball Front Again Pinball Back

A public Ravelry link to the pinball.

Not to be stopped there, I decided to knit a pinball for Sarah. Hers was a copy of one in Williamsburg's collections.

I even posed it (hooray for bad photoshopping!) similarly to the original :)

A public Ravelry link to the Williamsburg pinball.

And now, with Costume Con sewing coming to a close, I decided to take things a little slowly, use that silver pinball ring, and make a copy of pinball 6974 on this page. Well, and wish I could get the original too!

So tonight I charted the pattern. I doubt it's exact, but it's as close as I could count, and I decided to not put initials on it this time. There is a place on the pinball ring for engraving though!

Pinball Chart

A public Ravelry link to the strawberry pinball.

So tomorrow, I'm going to buy more silk thread. Dark brown for the ground and pink for the strawberries and green for the leaves. I'm so excited to start this. I've been wanting to knit something for quite some time now, and this should satisfy that urge :)


  1. Amazing! I've been wanting to try that for a long time. Where did you find that size of knitting needles??

  2. Very beautifully done! I'm very much looking forward to seeing the progress on your new "knitted pinball project"!


  3. I just love these, but I can't knit, so I'll have to come up with another way to do one. I can do embroidery or x-stitch.
    Where in W'burg did you buy your ring? I wish I'd known about it when I was there last month.
    Do they all open up, or do most just exist as a solid ball?

  4. Thanks everyone :)

    And there will be progress today. Of course, nothing too exciting as there are twenty plain brown rows first. I can't wait to get to the strawberries.

    Nicole, definitely try it! They're so fun, and really quite addictive. My needles are from . They're double pointed, but I haven't had any issues with that. The only time (knock on wood) my work has slipped off the needles is when I pushed it towards the front of the needle a little too hard. I do that with all my knitting, so no different, really!

    Val, I bought the ring at Mary Dickenson's, but they also have them at the Golden Ball. I only have the ring, not the chain. I'd have bought the chain too, had I known about it when I bought it. Oh well, it'll be pretty on a ribbon too :)

    I'm not aware of any that open. For these, you stuff the two sides and sew them together. You cover the join with ribbon, braided thread, or a ring.

  5. Thanks for the information. It occurs to me that if someone wasn't able to get hold of one of the silver rings, or can't afford it, that those rings used for notebooks (which can be bought in Staples/Office Depot/etc) might be a possibility. But not as pretty.